It has been quite a while since our last blog post, but we didn’t come as far as we planned due to several technical problems. Instead of being on the atlantic crossing right now, we are still on Gran Canaria and hope to finally be able to leave for Cape Verdes tomorrow. But no worries, we have the time.
After some more days on Lanzarote with more exploring of this fascinating island, we did a small leg south to Isla de Lobos, which is a small unpopulated island north of Fuerteventura. We stayed for two days in a quite nice but unsheltered anchorage with clear water in front of a lagoon until the wind direction shifted and it got too uncomfortable due to waves coming in.
At high water it is possible to enter the lagoon by dinghy, and if you stay until low water you have to carry the dinghy over the rocks at the entrance. Luckily our dinghy is not that heavy at 32kg without the outboard, so we didn’t have to care too much about tides.
We tried some snorkeling in the lagoon which was refreshing but not as interesting as we hoped because the water in there was not as clear as outside in the anchorage. We would have loved to go snorkeling there, as we could even see a big stingray hovering over the ground behind Mila, but the currents between Isla de Lobos and Fuerteventura were to strong to go in the water.
So we went on to Gran Canaria and did an overnight upwind sail to Las Palmas. I was really looking forward to sailing upwind again, because we had not done this for such a long time, only boring relaxing downwind sailing. Well, when we went out and the wind increased to 30 knots, i quickly remembered why no one loves upwind sailing. It was exhausting as it always is, but we did fine and arrived in the Las Palmas anchorage in the late morning.
We decided to stay there for some time and get some repairs done. After 3000nm several of our sails (the main, the large genoa and the booster) had smaller problems and we found a sailmaker who did good work (as far as we know until now) for a fair price. So if you need any sailwork done on your boat, go to Sunny’s yacht service in Las Palmas. He is a bulgarian guy and former circumnavigator who is living on his boat and has a loft for sailwork, canvas work and steel welding.
We also finally installed our second water tank, now we have 200L of water which lasts quite a long time when only used for cooking and drinking. While this project went unexpectedly well, our now completed freshwater system lasted only for two days, then our freshwater pump (that we installed new in spring 2015) failed shortly before we wanted to leave to Cape Verdes. Knowing about the situation there for spare parts we decided to order a new pump in Las Palmas and wait for it to arrive. The old pump still pumps, but the pressure sensor that stops the pump when the taps are closed stopped to work. So we ordered exactly the same pump and if this one will break again we hopefully will be able to built a working pump out of two broken ones.
When the pump finally arrived, there were only some days left until Teresas 30th birthday, so we decided to stay longer to celebrate with the several people we got to know in Las Palmas or knew from Portugal and Morocco.
We had a really nice party with sailors from Sweden, Norway, Chile, Canada and Germany with loads of beer and Gin Tonic. Even if the two of us are all in all 60 years old now, the celebrations lasted the whole night until it was 6:30 in the morning.
We also decided to rent a car again to expore Gran Canaria. This works really nice on the Canaries, you simply go to the car rental, fill out a paper and then you get a car for a nice price. We paid even less than on Lanzarote, 26€ for 24 hours including unlimited kilometers and with complete insurance coverage.
We used the car to go south fast on the highway near the coast, visited Maspalomas which is very touristy and then went back to the north over the center of the island, with very small streets through the mountains.
Several days later we finally completed all preparations for doing the 850nm trip to Cape Verdes. We went to a supermarket that offered delivery to the harbour and bought provisions for 350€, filled up on Diesel, Gas and Water and set sail to Mindelo, Cape Verdes.
Or, at least this destination was the plan. When we left the Las Palmas anchorage wind speeds increased and due to this the load on the steering system also increased, which is normally no problem. But this day, we heard a strange squeaking noise coming from the steering system that we never heard before. While the weel steering worked as expected and we have an emergency tiller if it ever stops to do so, we decided to head back in to Pasito Blanco on the south end of Gran Canaria to find out what is wrong.
The next morning, i started disassembling the whole system. The steering wheel turns a chain that is connected to a steel wire that finally moves the rudder. There are several pulleys that guide the steel wire to the rudder, and i noticed that one of the pulleys was not aligned correctly. As there was some paint over the pulley mount, it must have been like this for a long time or even from factory. So i removed all the pulleys and had a close look at them and noticed that the shaft of the misaligned pulley had a lot of wear due to the sideways loading.
While this 20mm shaft that was worn down to about 18mm probably would have lasted for quite a long time, we decided to sort this problem out properly as we already had all the parts removed. The next day, i took the folding bike and found an ancient metal workshop run by a guy from Cuba below a shopping mall. He made us two new shafts (so now we have one as a spare) for 20€. We put everything back together and now the squeaking stopped, even when putting load on the rudder.
So we were ready to leave again, but this time the weather didn’t want us to. We had quite strong winds in the last days which at first made it impossible to back out of our very tight slip and then brought loads of very fine sand dust from the Sahara. This is called Calima and looks like being a quite common thing on the Canaries. Everything is covered in dust and when going out, it takes only some minutes until your eyes and throat start to hurt. Not the best conditions for going out on a boat like ours where you have to be outside to see anything in forward direction.
So we celebrated christmas in Pasito Blanco inside the boat and had a nice christmas dinner with homemade german potato salad with a recipe of Teresas mother. And i got a new haircut.
Today, the Calima winds started decreasing. The air was still a little bit hard to breathe but much better than yesterday. So we went out to the Maspalomas Dunes to take the obligatory handstand picture.
Hopefully we can leave for Cape Verdes tomorrow. We’ll probably spend New Years eve at sea then but we are looking forward to that.
Oh, and i forgot: Somewhere in between first one of my cameras died and then my phone died. Both items are replaced now but it was quite a hassle to find acceptable replacements. Experienced long distance-sailors say long distance-sailing means repairing your boat in the most beautiful places of the world. We start to get strong believers in this thesis. And we like it.
Written by Lukas